Bioethical Issues on Genetically Modified Organisms (Gmos) in Malaysia: Biting Into the Legal Protection Under the Biosafety Act 2007

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2011 2nd International Conference on Biotechnology and Food Science IPCBEE vol.7 (2011) © (2011) IACSIT Press, Singapore

Bioethical Issues on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) In Malaysia: Biting Into the Legal Protection under the Biosafety Act 2007
Assoc Prof. Dr. Zaiton Hamin & Siti Hafsyah Idris
Faculty of Law, Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM), 40450, Shah Alam, Selangor, Malaysia. Email:,
Abstract— Of late, a growing number of ongoing researches on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in Malaysia were the consequences of the rapid advancement in the biotechnology industry. One such example is the genetically modified (GM) male mosquitoes and its field testing in two different
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Currently, the part of bioethics that is most developed in Malaysia is that which relates to biosafety which is governed by the Biosafety Act 2007 (hereinafter ‘the 2007 Act’). This Act is under the auspice of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (NRE). However, strangely the biotechnology industry is under the supervision of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI). As for the agriculture industry, the relevant ministry is the Ministry of Agriculture, while the Ministry of Health is responsible for medical practices and food products. The fact that different ministries are involved in governing issues in biotechnology has led to not only the lack of coordination between them but also possible overlapping functions in implementing the 2007 Act and its regulation. Apart from this, however, the provisions of the 2007 Act is rather vague on other bioethical issues. The 2007 Act which was gazetted in 2007, generally provides for biosafety and addresses all Living Modified Organisms (LMOs). It is interesting to note that Malaysia uses the term LMOs rather than GMOs and Malaysia has made a declaration in the Convention of Biodiversity 1994 that the former term gives meaning to the latter. The 2007 Act is envisaged to strike a rather difficult balance between the creation of a sustainable biosafety on the one hand and the protection of
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